The final episode of Shikabane Hime: Aka manages to offer up perhaps one of the most frustrating traits of any series - A recap episode that throws in just enough important new developments that means you have to watch it whether you like it or not just to pick up on those points.
Of course, by the close of the last episode we reached the point that we were inexorably headed to from the very start - That being the "crowning" of Ouri as Makina's Contracted Priest, after the death of Keisei. So, this episode deals sporadically with Keisei's funeral, while also revealing to us that the Kougon cult has no desire to allow Ouri to continue to fill this role as a Contracted Priest. Given the fact that the baton was passed on to him by his brother, Ouri refuses to simply give up, and by the end of the episode he's thrown a heavy hint as to what he needs to do to gain the necessary training to properly succeed his brother. Will he follow this path and become a true Contracted Priest? Well, that's a question for Shikabane Hime: Kuro to answer...
Aside from those important points, as I mentioned the rest of this episode was made up of flashbacks and a kind of glossary of sorts as to all the "jargon" used during the series, no doubt to set up newcomers for Kuro. It's fair enough I suppose, but immensely frustrating for those of us that have actually been paying attention for the past dozen episodes.
Still, this flashback episode aside and after a bit of a slow start, Shikabane Hime: Aka managed to grow sufficiently to exceed my expectations. While in many ways it remained something of a generic action series, it managed to suffuse it in turns with enough emotion, horror and character development to make it a worthwhile watch episode after episode. Let's hope that Kuro can continue down this path with a similar degree of success, especially know that the irascible Keisei has been replaced by Ouri, who has been rather dull and stupid at times throughout this series, to be frank.